When Valve announced in June that it would release a full sequel to the very popular “Left 4 Dead” one year after the original came out, a number of gamers were upset.
Those vocal opponents went to Internet message boards and forums to organize a petition signing against “Left 4 Dead 2” on the basis that it was too soon to make a sequel to one of last year’s biggest surprise hits.
There wasn’t enough development time, they argued, to bring sweeping gameplay changes in one year.
But companies release sports games annually, often including substantial changes with each release.
The idea of an Internet boycott for a video game is silly enough, but it was more ridiculous when you consider what was being boycotted.
“Left 4 Dead” was one of the most original games released in 2008, and it became a huge hit because of its online gameplay, which allowed up to four gamers to play alongside of each other to survive a zombie apocalypse. The game split into four television-like episodes that had the four survivors fighting their way through different locales to get rescued. It was a simple, but well-executed game.
So that being said, why would a new game, with new survivors, new weapons, new locales, new zombies and the same gameplay elements be boycotted for not having enough developmental time?
I’m not sure, but when I played “Left 4 Dead 2” — available now for Xbox and PC — it delivered on every level the first did. Is the game very similar to the original? Sure. But it doesn’t matter that much because it builds on the high standards set in the first game.
This time around, four new survivors battle through the South, from Savannah to New Orleans. One section has you fighting down Interstate 16. All of the new levels are well constructed.
The game introduces melee weapons — crowbars, swords, axes, chainsaws and guitars — for the first time. And there are new special infected zombies. The Charger is like a weaker version of the Tank that shoulder blocks survivors and runs them into objects. The Jockey jumps on the survivors’ backs and rides them until he is shot off. The Spitter spits a toxic acid on the group, and he is easily the most powerful new special infected.
The new game doesn’t bring a ton of different gameplay elements, and it could be argued that this should have been the more complete original game with the campaigns from both games still not adding up to what you’d normally expect from a game. But just like the original, “Left 4 Dead 2” shines with its online gameplay and is a must-have if you frequent Xbox Live.